A tailor made desert sojourn
A desert sojourn in South Sinai was tailor made for Rev Peter and Dr Patricia Wyard during October 2014, as part of their journey through the Holy Land, taking in Israel and Jordan too. Peter wrote to us on their return:
“I am writing to say how much we enjoyed the trip that you organised for us. We appreciated your flexibility in adjusting the programme to our wishes and fitting in with our overall itinerary.
The whole experience was wonderful and I’m very pleased that we added the extra day. We were pleased that Dr Rabia [in charge of Sinai arrangements for Wind Sand & Stars] joined us for the first day so that we could see the esteem in which he is held by the Bedouins.
The organisation of the trip was excellent and we were impressed by the provision of details such as the Dettol water to clean one’s hands before eating. We were very impressed by our guide Adel with whom we formed quite a close bond. He is clearly someone with a personal faith and we had a few religious discussions with him.
I think that for both Patricia and me one of the best parts of the trip was the fellowship of our little group, British [Peter] and Belgian [Patricia] travellers, Egyptian guide and Bedouin drivers, around the fire at mealtimes. The food itself was also excellent. We loved riding the camels for two days, and could easily have travelled further with them. We had superb weather; an absolutely clear sky for five days, pretty warm in the daytime and quite cool at night. The stars were fantastic, and as an astronomer I was in my element explaining the constellations etc to Adel, who was an eager pupil! The times of silence also worked out pretty well, mostly while the meals were being prepared. Adel was accustomed to the idea of silent times from the recent Wind Sand & Stars trip with Sara Maitland.
The visit to Mount Sinai and St Catherine’s Monastery made an excellent end to the trip. Adel climbed the mountain with us. We went up the steep way and got to the top in perfect time for the sunset. The monastery guesthouse was very peaceful (I think we were the only guests).
We were amused by the convoy in which we returned from St Catherine. Adel had been quite anxious that we should join the convoy when it left at 1pm, but in fact as soon as the vehicles started they rapidly dispersed so that there was no convoy to speak of. I presume that the idea is that the police vehicles at the front and the rear of the convoy should provide protection, but when our Jeep caught up with the rear police vehicle (yes, we were behind it) our Bedouin driver Eid slowed down as he clearly didn’t want to be too close to it. After a few miles, the police vehicles seemed to think that their job was done, and turned back.
I am glad that Patricia (and I) were not at all worried during the trip by the security situation. In the desert we felt especially safe. I suppose that we were a bit concerned to discover as we left Sinai that while we were in the desert thirty soldiers had been killed by a suicide bomber driving his vehicle into a checkpoint in North Sinai. Perhaps our driver had thought that if police and soldiers are the targets, it’s wise to keep away from their vehicles. We were very sad to hear over and over again how much tourism in Egypt (and Jordan for that matter) has suffered in recent years, but of course it’s a difficult case to make to potential travellers that the open roads in South Sinai are safe when such violent acts happen in the neighbouring province. We hope and pray that the Egyptian government will be able to establish a good level of security in the whole country.”